Conservation organisations have unveiled a new report that identifies some of Kenya’s most important wildlife migratory corridors, hailing the effort as an important step towards closing the gap between conservation and urban development.

“As our landscape becomes increasingly more human-dominated, securing wildlife migratory routes and corridors is critical to sustaining ecological integrity as well as developing a tolerant relationship between man and wildlife,” said Dr Ben Okita, Head of Monitoring at Save The Elephants, a key contributor to the study unveiled on July 26.

“Kenya is renowned for its wildlife, which are a key economic asset, yet wildlife populations including those of elephants have declined dramatically over the last few decades. This report recognises the importance of reducing and reversing this trend by restoring connectivity to our environment, not just for the wildlife but for the people of Kenya too,” he added.

Save The Elephants said in a press release that the report’s recommendations will help protect Kenya’s future by setting a framework for the country to undertake landscape planning while conserving natural ecosystems. This in turn will ensure the country’s valuable natural heritage survives as the country’s population and infrastructure continues to grow.

Wildlife migratory corridors will be crucial in connecting core habitats for Kenya’s wildlife and ensuring the long-term survival of many species. Over the years poaching, rangeland degradation, human-wildlife conflict and climate change have all begun to threaten the nation’s wildlife populations, and urgent action is needed to stem the decline.

The report, launched at the Nairobi National Park by Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Prof. Judi Wakhungu, recognises the threats currently facing Kenya’s wildlife and outlines the importance of connectivity, identifies key wildlife corridors and dispersal areas and suggests priority conservation actions to protect the country’s fragile natural heritage.

Save The Elephants identified and mapped essential corridors and dispersal areas in northern Kenya, Tsavo and in the Masai Mara for the report. The organisation generated the crucial scientific information through satellite radio tracking of 99 elephants, mapping the expanding footprint of human development and undertaking census work.

The same tracking data, gathered from 10 elephants in Tsavo fitted with satellite radio transmitters, was also used by Save The Elephants earlier this year, in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), to advise the Chinese contractors of Kenya’s new standard gauge railway on how to implement future wildlife passages along railways and roads through a better understanding of the effectiveness of the current passages along the railroad.

“All our contributions to urban development have been motivated by our core mission of ‘securing a future for elephants’. By doing this groundwork we, along with other key wildlife partners, are helping to put Kenya at the forefront of developing solutions to Africa’s conservation challenges,” said Frank Pope, Save the Elephants’ CEO.

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Save The Elephants’ founder said:“This new wildlife corridors and dispersal areas report clearly identifies many of the important wildlife corridors in Kenya, and is a significant step forward in closing the gap between conservation and development in the country. We are proud to have worked alongside key wildlife partners to start forging a pathway towards a modern Kenya whose rich biodiversity remains intact.”

Key recommendations from the report, include:

  1. Develop, expand and implement the proposed Conservation Connectivity Framework
  2. Promote integrated land-use planning and cross-sectoral implementation
  3. Review policies and legislation for a harmonized policy framework
  4. Promote community participation in biodiversity conservation
  5. Implement management of conservation connectivity
  6. Enhance knowledge through effective research and monitoring
  7. Secure resources for conservation connectivity management
  8. Ensure effective monitoring and learning